When K2 was born 4 weeks premature, the doctors (and her parents) wanted to make sure she was getting the best start possible. During the surgery, the NICU staff was ready and waiting nearby just in case she needed help breathing when she entered this new world. Thankfully, there was no issue–she came out screaming! She did, however, have lower oxygen in her blood than they wanted. As soon as she was skin to skin on my chest, her oxygen shot up and regulated itself. I, myself, was suffering from throbbing pressure in my head that felt like I was going to pass out–until they placed her on my chest. Somehow, being together mended both of our problems.
Post-surgery, they wheeled me into recovery and placed baby in my arms. I wanted to nurse her, so they told me to try. Amazingly, K2 latched right on as if she knew exactly what she was doing! I was shocked, but happy. Her older sister, K, had been so different (she’s never been eager to eat anything but donuts!). K2 was a natural. However, being so early, the doctors wanted to make sure she could maintain her blood sugar for the next 24 hours. They told me to keep nursing so she’d get the colostrum she needed, but that she also needed something extra–donor breastmilk. They wanted her to have the calories, and said it would help her maintain her blood sugar. We would have to use donor breastmilk until my milk came in, or until we left the hospital (and formula would be the only option). Well, I had my heart set on breastfeeding only.
I needed my milk to come in, and quick!
That’s when I started researching what I could do to make it come in as soon as possible.
Not only did these things help my milk come in 2 days after K2 was born, but I also produced such an amazing supply that the pediatrician gawked at me when I told her how much I produced every time I pumped at home. Now, you know I’m no doctor. I realize that every woman is different when it comes to breastfeeding. I’m sharing my experience just in case it helps you, too! Here’s what I did:
How To Increase Your Milk Supply
First – Pumping!
The hospital provided an excellent breast pump that I used in between feedings. I also pumped every time she drank donor milk. It didn’t matter if I didn’t produce hardly anything, I had to keep going if my body was going to learn to keep up with “demand”. Fortunately, my health insurance also paid for a breast pump I could use at home. I ordered it online several weeks in advance. My insurance directed me to Byram Healthcare’s website to order it. If you try calling your insurance help line, tell them you’re expecting and want to understand your benefits better. Ask if a breast pump is covered and where you can go to order one. Even now I continue using it to pump at least once a day! It’s always good to have an extra bottle in the fridge for when you’re out and about, or a bag in the freezer for future emergencies.
Second – Nursing
You probably already know this, but just to make sure– If you want to increase your supply, nursing is a no brainer! The more you nurse your baby the more your body will produce. Your body’s designed to understand supply and demand. I also firmly believe there’s a chemical connection between you and your baby that helps this, too! In the beginning, breastfeeding skin to skin was best for K2 and I. A lot of moms say nursing hurts them, but this usually means that baby isn’t latching correctly. Your nipple may not be far enough in baby’s mouth. (K2 and I had this issue and it made my nipples so sore they’d crack and bleed.) The lactation consultants at the hospital I went to were no help at all. I had to look up in a book to perfect the latch. Check out this link if you need help. Once we fixed how she latched on, no more pain!
Third – Food
I knew there were these lactation cookies for sale at baby stores like Buy Buy Baby, but I had never tried them before. When our friends came to visit us while in the hospital, they were wonderful enough to bring me a sack full. I ate 2 giant cookies a day, and loved them. Especially the oatmeal chocolate chip. Even though they were a little dry and crumbly, I felt like they were really helping. I knew I’d have to learn how to make them at home. After doing some research, I found three ingredients pretty consistently over the web that are suppose to increase milk supply:
So of course I decided to look up recipes that used all three of these ingredients. First I tried brownies, but the brewers yeast left a strange after taste. Next I tried a couple cookie recipes. Even James has been helping-not only by helping me eat them- but also by making cookies on his own! We finally settled on one recipe that we really like.
Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Lactation Cookies
1 cup Earth balance butter (or whatever non-dairy margarine you have)
4 Tb water
2 Tb ground flaxseed
1 cup raw sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
3 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Fenugreek Powder
3 cups old fashion oats
1 cup vegan* Chocolate Chips–>Many brands are surprisingly vegan, just check the ingredients. They’ll either be made with milk/butter (not vegan) or soy lecithin (vegan)
2 -4 tablespoons Brewer’s Yeast
Preheat oven to 350°. Mix the flaxseed and water and set aside–it’s going to thicken up just a tad. Beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar in the mixer. Add eggs, stirring to combine, then the flaxseed and vanilla. In a separate bowl whisk together your dry ingredients: flour, brewers yeast, baking soda, salt and fenugreek powder. Add the dry ingredients to your mixer. Once everything’s combined, use a mixing spoon to add the oats and chocolate chips. Scoop onto baking sheets one spoonful at a time. Bake for 12 minutes. Let cool for a couple minutes then remove from tray. This recipe will make about 3 dozen cookies, so it’ll last you awhile. Unless your family likes to snack on cookies all day like mine, then maybe not.
One of my favorite ways to eat them are with ice cream on top. 😉
I truly believe implementing these 3 practices -pumping, nursing, and cookies!- has helped increase my supply while breastfeeding my little one. I wish I would have known these things when I had K, then nursing might have been easier with her. Let me know how these tips help you!
PS: When it comes time to switch to bottle, I highly recommend Nuk Simply Natural bottles. It really helped our transition from breast to bottle.